Indexed on: 16 Sep '10Published on: 16 Sep '10Published in: Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine
Coronary CT angiography (CCTA) is an innovative technique to visualize the coronary arteries in patients with suspected coronary artery disease. CCTA has been validated in patients with non acute symptoms. Because of its high negative predictive value in this population, some have advocated using it in patients admitted to the emergency department with chest pain to determine the presence of coronary artery disease and acute coronary syndrome (ACS). With current CCTA protocols, adequate evaluation of the coronary arteries is feasible using radiation doses similar to, and even lower than, those for single-photon emission CT, which is commonly used to stratify these patients. In addition to its unique capability of visualizing the coronary tree in a noninvasive fashion, CCTA evaluates extracardiac pathologic conditions, which are part of the differential diagnosis in patients with chest pain, such as pulmonary embolism and acute aortic syndrome. These conditions, although less common than ACS, are also life threatening and their timely diagnosis and treatment may have a positive impact on survival. Other less frequent conditions, such as coronary artery anomalies, also are easily detected with CCTA. Overall, CCTA has an excellent negative predictive value and sensitivity for ACS in patients presenting with chest pain and simultaneously can aid in the diagnoses of other relevant intrathoracic abnormalities.